Handling Bullying

Bullying is defined as one child or several repeatedly teasing, taunting, threatening or physically abusing another child. Bullying can happen to children of all ages but smaller children are particularly vulnerable

Continued bullying can leave lifelong scars.

Victims of bullying are likely to be anxious, passive sensitive, physically weak children. As adults bullied children tend to become depressive and suffer from poor self-esteem.

What are the signs a parent should look for?

Don’t depend upon the child telling you since she may hide problems and be unwilling to talk for fear of reprisal.

  • Torn clothing or injuries sustained at school that the child can’t explain.
  • Reluctance to go to school.
  • Suddenly doing badly in school.
  • Doesn’t invite classmates or friends home to play or for birthday parties and doesn’t want to go to visit them either.
  • Is moody and has sudden displays of temper.
  • Asks for extra lunch or money (which may be extorted by the bully).
  • Is prone to crying spells or regresses to earlier childhood behaviour like thumb-sucking or bed-wetting.

What can you do?

  • Take all complaints of bullying made by your child seriously.
  • Report the incidents to the teacher and if possible the parents of the bully.
  • Teach your children to be assertive. Practice with the child assertive techniques such as looking people directly in the eye, answering in a more confident tone.
  • Encourage children to use their brains and not brawn when bullied.
  • Find an ally at school with a teacher or another parent.
  • Find a classmate to be a friend to your child and help him stand up to the bully.
  • Stress the child’s individual talents. Encourage him to try sports or activities that interest them or show off his particular talents.
  • Discuss the day with your child every night. So that you know what is happening.

What do you do if it is your child who is doing the bullying?

  • Don’t convict him without proof.
  • If you have proof don’t deny facts.
  • Practice controlling the aggressive behaviour with positive reinforcement through acknowledgement and praise for good behaviour.
  • Set clear limits for what is acceptable and what is not.
  • Make a consistent effort to find talents or strengths you can focus the child’s attention on.
  • If all else fails, seek professional help. This is very important to discover the cause of the bullying behaviour.
  • Consider making a clean start in another school.
  • Practice praising the child for what he does right rather than reprimanding him for what he does wrong.
  • Set up a good example at home (don’t bully him!).

Related Links

Boosting self confidence

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